Trump extends social distancing guidelines until end of April | Fauci says at least 100,000 deaths, millions of cases are possible U.S.

by Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver

President Trump extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April and predicted that the number of confirmed cases and deaths would peak in two weeks as the administration looks to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The president’s announcement came as the virus continues to spread at a breakneck pace, with the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. eclipsing 139,000 and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, predicting that millions would contract the virus and that the death toll could reach 100,000 (The Hill).

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the war is won,” Trump said at a press conference in the Rose Garden on Sunday. “That would be the greatest loss of all.”

The guidelines, which urge individuals to avoid restaurants and bars, cancel nonessential travel, and limit in-person gatherings to 10 people or fewer, were set to expire on Tuesday. Previously, the president indicated hopes to reopen the country and the economy on Easter, April 12. However, he backed off that previous call on Sunday, saying that the initial date was purely “aspirational.” His decision also received the support of Fauci, who called it “wise and prudent.”

“We feel that the mitigation that we’re doing right now is having an effect, it’s very difficult to quantitate it because you have two dynamic things going on at the same time,” Fauci said at the press conference. “You have the virus going up and you have the mitigation trying to push it down.”

According to the latest statistics, there are 143,055 positive cases of COVID-19 and 2,513 deaths in the U.S. 4,865 have recovered.

At the press conference, Fauci stood by his prediction that at least 100,000 Americans, and potentially upwards of 200,000, could succumb to the virus, citing modeling for the figures.

The Sunday Shows: New coronavirus projections, quarantine talk dominate.

The New York Times: Trump administration says more than 894,000 tests have been performed in U.S.

The Washington Post: “Body bags all over:” Trump beats a retreat on opening country as coronavirus data, images show dark reality.

As The Hill’s Reid Wilson writes, the challenges facing the U.S. will quantify this week as some hospitals are expected to reach maximum capacity, case counts will rise exponentially, and the number of available ventilators and beds in intensive care units will plummet.

According to models and projections, April will be a public health catastrophe unlike anything in modern memory, as tens of thousands of Americans are likely to die from the coronavirus in the coming weeks, a consequence of American leaders failing to heed the lessons learned in other countries about the value and success of taking drastic steps. New York already has nearly 60,000 cases, and officials worry they will soon see new clusters multiply across major cities.

“No state, no metro area will be spared, and the sooner we react and the sooner the states and the metro areas react and ensure that they put in full mitigation, at the same time understanding exactly what their hospitals need, then we’ll be able to move forward together and protect the most Americans,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Given the month ahead, Trump told reporters that he will not exempt any part of the U.S. from the social distancing guidelines, including some rural states and parts of the nation that have not been hit nearly as hard by the virus, noting that Fauci and Birx did not think it was a good idea.

The New York Times: The lost month: How a failure to test blinded the U.S. to COVID-19.

The Associated Press: Relief package billions can’t buy hospitals out of shortages.

CNBC: Cigna and Humana waive coronavirus treatment costs.

Ross Douthat, The New York Times: Rational panic, but also rational hope.

On Capitol Hill, while Congress is out of town for the coming weeks after passing the $2.2 trillion stimulus package, lawmakers are discussing the potential for a fourth coronavirus-related package. As Alexander Bolton writes, businesses, trade associations and state governments are already jockeying for more federal relief, saying the most recent package is a good “first step” but not enough to keep the economy on track if the coronavirus crisis extends beyond the end of April.

“I think the odds are we’ll need more legislation. First, we don’t know the extent of the crisis in terms of the magnitude, so that could rise. But there are going to be problems that we don’t realize now that we’re going to have to grapple with,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. “So I think the odds are high there will be a Covid-4,” he added, referring to the anticipated next bill.

The Hill: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says fourth stimulus bill might not be necessary.

The Hill: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin emerges as key asset in Trump’s war against coronavirus.

The New York Times: Liberty University brings back its students, and coronavirus, too.

The Hill: Capitol Police officer tests positive for coronavirus.

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